Rembrandt van Rijn, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632)

Dum enim medici solam interiorum affectuum curationem ad se pertinere autumabant, viscerum dumtaxat cognitionem sibi abunde sufficere arbitrati, ossium, musculorum, nervorum, venarum, arteriarum quae ossa musculosque perreptant fabricam, veluti ad ipsos non spectantem, neglexerunt. ad haec, quum universa administratio tonsoribus committebatur, non solum vera viscerum cognitio medicis periit, verum etiam dissecandi industria prorsus intercidit, eo quod scilicet hi reflectionem non aggrederentur, illi vero quibus manus artificium delegabatur, indoctiores essent, quam ut dissectionis professorum scripta intelligerent: tantum abest, ut difficillimam artem, manu ipsis traditam, id hominum genus nobis asservaret, utque haec deploranda curativae partis dispersio, detestabilem ritum in gymnasiis non inveheret, quo alii humani corporis sectionem administrare, alii partium historiam enarrare consueverunt. his quidem graculorum modo, quae numquam aggressi sunt, sed tantum ex aliorum libris memoriae commendant, descriptave ob oculos ponunt, alte in cathedra egregio fastu occinentibus: illis autem adeo linguarum imperitis, ut dissecta spectatoribus explicare nequeant, atque ex physici praescripto ostendanda lacerent, qui manu sectioni nunquam adhibita, tantum ex commentario nautam non sine supercilio agit. atque ut sic omnia perperam docentur, ac ridiculis quaestionibus dies aliquot abeunt, ita quoque spectatoribus in illo tumultu pauciora proponuntur, quam lanius in macello medicum docere posset.
(Andras Vesalius, De Humani Corporis Fabrica, ad Carolum V. imperatorem praefatio)

For as long as physicians maintained that only the treatment of interior diseases was their concern, they believed that knowledge of the viscera was all they needed, and they neglected the fabric of bones and muscles and the nerves, veins and arteries that run throughout the bones and muscles, as if these were irrelevant to them. Moreover, when all operations were entrusted to barbers, not only did true knowledge of the viscera perish from the medical profession, but the work of dissection completely died out. Physicians did not undertake surgery, while those to whom the manual craft was entrusted were too uneducated to understand what professors of dissection had written. So far this class of men is from preserving for us the difficult and abstruse art handed down to them, and so far has this pernicious dispersal of the healing art failed to avoid importing the vile ritual in the universities by which some perform dissections of the human body while others recite the anatomical information. While the latter in their egregious conceit squawk like jackdaws from their lofty professorial chairs things they have never done but only memorize from the books of others or see written down, the former are so ignorant of languages that they are unable to explain dissections to an audience and they butcher the things they are meant to demonstrate, following the instructions of a physician who in a haughty manner navigates out of a manual alone matters he has never subjected to dissection by hand. And as everything is being thus wrongly taught in the universities and as days pass in silly questions, fewer things are placed before the spectators in all that confusion than a butcher in a market could teach a doctor. (tr. Daniel Garrison & Malcolm Hast)



Οὕτω δ’ ἐξήρτηντο τῶν ἡδυπαθειῶν οἱ τότε ὡς καὶ Καλλιπύγου Ἀφροδίτης ἱερὸν ἱδρύσασθαι ἀπὸ τοιαύτης αἰτίας. ἀνδρὶ ἀγροίκῳ ἐγένοντο δύο καλαὶ θυγατέρες· αὗται φιλονικήσασαί ποτε πρὸς ἑαυτὰς προελθοῦσαι ἐπὶ τὴν λεωφόρον διεκρίνοντο ποτέρα εἴη καλλιπυγοτέρα. καί ποτε παρίοντος νεανίσκου πατέρα πρεσβύτην ἔχοντος ἐπέδειξαν ἑαυτὰς καὶ τούτῳ· καὶ ὃς θεασάμενος ἔκρινε τὴν πρεσβυτέραν· ἧς καὶ εἰς ἔρωτα ἐμπεσὼν ἐλθὼν εἰς ἄστυ κλινήρης γίνεται καὶ διηγεῖται τὰ γεγενημένα τῷ ἀδελφῷ ἑαυτοῦ ὄντι νεωτέρῳ. ὁ δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐλθὼς εἰς τοὺς ἀγροὺς καὶ θεασάμενος τὰς παῖδας ἐρᾷ καὶ αὐτὸς τῆς ἑτέρας. ὁ δ’ οὖν πατὴρ ἐπεὶ παρακαλῶν αὐτοὺς ἐνδοξοτέρους λαβεῖν γάμους οὐκ ἔπειθεν, ἄγεται ἐκ τοῦ ἀγροῦ τὰς παῖδας αὐτοῖς, πείσας ἐκείνων τὸν πατέρα, καὶ ζεύγνυσι τοῖς υἱοῖς. αὗται οὖν ὑπὸ τῶν πολιτῶν Καλλίπυγοι ἐκαλοῦντο, ὡς καὶ ὁ Μεγαλοπολίτης Κερκιδᾶς ἐν τοῖς Ἰάμβοις ἱστορεῖ λέγων·
ἦν καλλιπύγων ζεῦγος ἐν Συρακούσαις. [fr. 14]
αὗται οὖν ἐπιλαβόμεναι οὐσίας λαμπρᾶς ἱδρύσαντο Ἀφροδίτης ἱερὸν καλέσασαι Καλλίπυγον τὴν θεόν, ὡς ἱστορεῖ καὶ Ἀρχέλαος ἐν τοῖς Ἰάμβοις.
(Athenaeus, Deipnosophistai 12.554c-e)

People in those days were so attached to a life of luxury that they actually dedicated a temple to Aphrodite Kallipugos (“of the Beautiful Ass”), for the following reason. A farmer had two beautiful daughters, who got into an argument with one another one day and went out to the road and began soliciting opinions as to which of them had the nicer ass. A young fellow, whose father was an old man, came along at that point, and they showed themselves off to him. After he saw them, he voted for the older girl and fell in love with her; and after he reached the city he got sick, and told his brother, who was younger than him, what had happened. His brother also went out into the country, and after he got a look at the girls, he fell in love with the other one. Their father tried to convince them to marry someone more respectable; but when he failed to convince them, he fetched the girls for them from the countryside, having persuaded their father, and joined them to his sons in marriage. The inhabitants of the city accordingly referred to them as the Kallipugoi (“Women with Beautiful Asses”), as Cercidas of Megalopolis reports in his Iambs, where he says:
There were a pair of kallipugoi in Syracuse.
After the became owners of some valuable property, therefore, they dedicated a temple to Aphrodite and called the goddess Kallipugos, according to Archelaus in his Iambs (SH 131). (tr. Stuart Douglas Olson)



In puero statim corporis animique dotes exsplenduerunt, magisque ac magis deinceps per aetatis gradus: forma egregia et cui non minus auctoritatis inesset quam gratiae, praecipuum robur, quamquam neque procera statura et ventre paulo proiectiore; memoria singularis, docilitas ad omnis fere tum belli tum pacis artes. armorum et equitandi peritissimus, Latine Graeceque vel in orando vel in fingendis poematibus promptus et facilis ad extemporalitatem usque; sed ne musicae quidem rudis, ut qui cantaret et psalleret iucunde scienterque. e pluribus comperi, notis quoque excipere velocissime solitum, cum amanuensibus suis per ludum iocumque certantem, imitarique chirographa quaecumque vidisset, ac saepe profiteri maximum falsarium esse potuisse.
(Suetonius, Div. Tit. 3)

His qualities of mind and body at once stood out even when he was a boy but still more so as he advanced towards maturity. His appearance was striking, conveying authority as well as charm, and he was unusually strong, though not tall in stature, while his stomach protruded a little. He had an exceptional memory and a great gift for acquiring almost all the arts of war as well as those of peace. He was highly skilled in the use of weapons and in horsemanship and had a ready fluency in both Latin and Greek to such a degree that he could make a speech or compose a poem without preparation. Even in music he was not without talent and could sing and play the cithara with grace and skill. I have discovered from a number of sources that he used to write shorthand at great speed and for fun would play at competing with his secretaries and that he could imitate any handwriting he had seen and often confessed he could have been the greatest of forgers. (tr. Catharine Edwards)



Ὁ δὲ ἐν Ὀλυμπίᾳ βωμὸς παρέχεται καὶ ἄλλο τοιόνδε ἐς θαῦμα· οἱ γὰρ ἰκτῖνες πεφυκότες ἁρπάζειν μάλιστα ὀρνίθων ἀδικοῦσιν οὐδὲν ἐν Ὀλυμπίᾳ τοὺς θύοντας· ἢν δὲ ἁρπάσῃ ποτὲ ἰκτῖνος ἤτοι σπλάγχνα ἢ τῶν κρεῶν, νενόμισται τῷ θύοντι οὐκ αἴσιον εἶναι τὸ σημεῖον. φασὶ δὲ Ἡρακλεῖ τῷ Ἀλκμήνης θύοντι ἐν Ὀλυμπίᾳ δι’ ὄχλου μάλιστα γενέσθαι τὰς μυίας· ἐξευρόντα οὖν αὐτὸν ἢ καὶ ὑπ’ ἄλλου διδαχθέντα Ἀπομυίῳ θῦσαι Διί, καὶ οὕτως ἀποτραπῆναι τὰς μυίας πέραν τοῦ Ἀλφειοῦ. λέγονται δὲ κατὰ ταὐτὰ καὶ Ἠλεῖοι θύειν τῷ Ἀπομυίῳ Διί, ἐξελαύνοντες τῆς Ἠλείας Ὀλυμπίας τὰς μυίας.
(Pausanias 5.14.1)

The altar at Olympia shows another strange peculiarity, which is this. The kite, the bird of prey with the most rapacious nature, never harms those who are sacrificing at Olympia. Should ever a kite seize the entrails or some of the flesh, it is regarded as an unfavorable sign for the sacrificer. There is a story that when Heracles the son of Alcmena was sacrificing at Olympia he was much worried by the flies. So either on his own initiative or at somebody’s suggestion he sacrificed to Zeus Averter of Flies, and thus the flies were diverted to the other side of the Alpheius. It is said that in the same way the Eleans too sacrifice to Zeus Averter of Flies, to drive* the flies out of Olympia.

* I take ἐξελαύνοντεςto be a conative present participle; Frazer takes it as an ordinary temporal participle; “when they drive out.”

(tr. William Henry Samuel Jones, with his note)



Δημήτριος Ἀρτεμιδώρου ὁ καὶ Θρασέας Μάγνης ἀπὸ Μαιάνδρου Ἴσιδι εὐχήν·
τάδε ἐγράφηι ἐκ τῆς στήλης τῆς ἐν Μέμφει, ἥτις ἕστηκεν πρὸς τῷ Ἡφαιστιήωι·
Εἶσις ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ τύραννος πάσης χώρας·
καὶ ἐπαιδεύθην ὑπὸ Ἑρμοῦ καὶ
γράμματα εὗρον μετὰ Ἑρμοῦ, τά τε ἱερὰ καὶ τὰ δημόσια γράμματα, ἵνα μὴ ἐν τοῖς αὐτοῖς πάντα γράφηται.
ἐγὼ νόμους ἀνθρώποις ἐθέμην, καὶ ἐνομοθέτησα ἃ οὐθεὶς δύναται μεταθεῖναι.
ἐγώ εἰμι Κρόνου θυγάτηρ πρεσβυτάτηι.
ἐγώ εἰμι γυνὴ καὶ ἀδελφὴ Ὀσείριδος βασιλέως.
ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ καρπὸν ἀνθρώποις εὑροῦσα.
ἐγώ εἰμι μήτηρ Ὥρου βασιλέως.
ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἐν τῷ τοῦ Κυνὸς ἄστρῳ ἐπιτέλλουσα.
ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ παρὰ γυναιξὶ θεὸς καλουμένη.
ἐμοὶ Βούβαστος πόλις ᾠκοδομήθη.
ἐγὼ ἐχώρισα γῆν ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ.
ἐγὼ ἄστρων ὁδοὺς ἔδειξα.
ἐγὼ ἡλίου καὶ σελήνης πορέαν συνεταξάμην.
ἐγὼ θαλάσσια ἔργα εὗρον.
ἐγὼ τὸ δίκαιον ἰσχυρὸν ἐποίησα.
ἐγὼ γυναῖκα καὶ ἄνδρα συνήγαγον.
ἐγὼ γυναικὶ δεκαμηνιαῖον βρέφος εἰς φῶς ἐξενεγκεῖν ἔταξα.
ἐγὼ ὑπὸ τέκνου γονεῖς ἐνομοθέτησα φιλοστοργῖσθαι.
ἐγὼ τοῖς ἀστόργως γονεῦσιν διακειμένοις τειμωρίαν ἐπέθηκα.
ἐγὼ μετὰ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ Ὀσίριδος τὰς ἀνθρωποφαγίας ἔπαυσα.
ἐγὼ μυήσεις ἀνθρώποις ἐπέδειξα.
ἐγὼ ἀγάλματα θεῶν τειμᾶν ἐδίδαξα.
ἐγὼ τεμένη θεῶν ἱδρυσάμην.
ἐγὼ τυράννων ἀρχὰς κατέλυσα.
ἐγὼ φόνους ἔπαυσα.
ἐγὼ στέργεσθαι γυναῖκας ὑπὸ ἀνδρῶν ἠνάγκασα.
ἐγὼ τὸ δίκαιον ἰσχυρότερον χρυσίου καὶ ἀργυρίου ἐποίησα.
ἐγὼ τὸ ἀληθὲς καλὸν ἐνομοθέτησα νομίζεσθαι.
ἐγὼ συνγραφὰς γαμικὰς εὗρον.
ἐγὼ διαλέκτους Ἕλλησι καὶ βαρβάροις ἔταξα.
ἐγὼ τὸ καλὸν καὶ αἰσχρὸν διαγεινώσκεσθαι ὑπὸ τῆς Φύσεως ἐποίησα.
ἐγὼ ὅρκου φοβερώτερον οὐθὲν ἐποίησα.
ἐγὼ τὸν ἀδίκως ἐπιβουλεύοντα ἄλλοις ὑποχείριον τῷ ἐπιβουλευομένῳ παρέδωκα.
ἐγὼ τοῖς ἄδικα πράσσουσιν τειμωρίαν ἐπιτίθημι.
ἐγὼ ἱκέτας ἐλεᾶν ἐνομοθέτησα.
ἐγὼ τοὺς δικαίως ἀμυνομένους τειμῶ.
πὰρ’ ἐμοὶ τὸ δίκαιον ἰσχύει.
ἐγὼ ποταμῶν καὶ ἀνέμων καὶ θαλάσσης εἰμὶ κυρία.
οὐθεὶς δοξάζεται ἄνευ τῆς ἐμῆς γνώμης.
ἐγώ εἰμι πολέμου κυρία.
ἐγὼ κεραυνοῦ κυρία εἰμί.
ἐγὼ πραΰνω καὶ κυμαίνω θάλασσαν.
ἐγὼ ἐν ταῖς τοῦ ἡλίου αὐγαῖς εἰμί.
ἐγὼ παρεδρεύω τῇ τοῦ ἡλίου πορείᾳ.
ὃ ἂν ἐμοὶ δόξῃ, τοῦτο καὶ τελεῖται.
ἐμοὶ πάντ’ ἐπείκει.
ἐγὼ τοὺς ἐν δεσμοῖς λύωι.
ἐγὼ ναυτιλίας εἰμὶ κυρία.
ἐγὼ τὰ πλωτὰ ἄπλωτα ποιῶ ὅταν ἐμοὶ δόξῃ.
ἐγὼ περιβόλους πόλεων ἔκτισα.
ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ Θεσμοφόρος καλουμένη.
ἐγὼ νήσσους ἐγ βυθῶν εἰς φῶς ἀνήγαγον.
ἐγὼ ὄμβρων εἰμὶ κυρία.
ἐγὼ τὸ ἱμαρμένον νικῶ.
ἐμοῦ τὸ εἱμαρμένον ἀκούει.
χαῖρε Αἴγυπτε θρέψασά με.
(IG XII Supp. 14)

Demetrios son of Artemidoros, also called Thraseas, from Magnesia on the Maeander, fulfilled his vow to Isis. The following text was copied from the inscription in Memphis which is positioned in front of the temple of Hephaistos:
I am Isis the tyrant of the whole land.
I was educated by Hermes and
with the help of Hermes devised both sacred and secular scripts, so that everything should not be written in the same script.
I established laws for humans, and created legislation which no one has the power to change.
I am the eldest daughter of Kronos.
I am the wife and sister of King Osiris.
I am she who invented crops for humans.
I am the mother of King Horus.
I am she who rises in the Dog Star.
I am she who is called God by women.
By me was the city of Boubastos built.
I divided earth from heaven.
I appointed the paths of the stars.
I regulated the passage of sun and moon.
I invented fishing and seafaring.
I made justice strong.
I coupled woman and man.
I arranged that women should bring babies to the light after nine months.
I legislated that parents be loved by their child.
I inflicted punishment on those who are not affectionately disposed towards their parents.
I , with my brother Osiris, ended cannibalism.
I showed initiations to humans.
I taught them to honour images of the gods.
I founded sanctuaries of the gods.
I ended the rule of tyrants.
I ended murders.
I forced women to be loved by men.
I made justice stronger than gold and silver.
I legislated that truth be considered a fine thing.
I invented marriage contracts.
I assigned languages for Greeks and barbarians.
I made good and evil be distinguished by nature.
I made nothing more respected than the oath.
I delivered the person plotting unjustly against another into the hands of the person plotted against.
I inflict punishment on chose acting unjustly.
I legislated mercy for the suppliant.
I honour those who avenge themselves with justice.
By me justice is mighty.
I am mistress of rivers, winds and sea.
No one is held in honour without my assent.
I am mistress of war.
I am mistress of the thunderbolt.
I calm and agitate the sea.
I am in the rays of the sun.
I accompany the passage of the sun.
Whatever I decide is actually accomplished.
To me everything yields.
I free those in chains.
I am mistress of seamanship.
I make the navigable unnavigable whenever I decide.
I built the walls of cities.
I am she who is called Thesmophoros*.
I raised islands from the deep to the light.
I am mistress of rainstorms.
I conquered fate.
To me fate listens.
Hail Egypt who nourished me.

* ‘Lawgiver’, an epithet normally applied to the Greek goddess Demeter.

(tr. Mary Beard, John North & Simon Price, with their note)



Τοῦ δ᾿ ἐπιγιγνομένου θέρους Πελοποννήσιοι καὶ οἱ ξύμμαχοι μέχρι μὲν τοῦ Ἰσθμοῦ ἦλθον ὡς ἐς τὴν Ἀττικὴν ἐσβαλοῦντες Ἄγιδος τοῦ Ἀρχιδάμου ἡγουμένου Λακεδαιμονίων βασιλέως, σεισμῶν δὲ γενομένων πολλῶν ἀπετράποντο πάλιν καὶ οὐκ ἐγένετο ἐσβολή. καὶ περὶ τούτους τοὺς χρόνους, τῶν σεισμῶν κατεχόντων, τῆς Εὐβοίας ἐν Ὀροβίαις ἡ θάλασσα ἐπανελθοῦσα ἀπὸ τῆς τότε οὔσης γῆς καὶ κυματωθεῖσα ἐπῆλθε τῆς πόλεως μέρος τι, καὶ τὸ μὲν κατέκλυσε, τὸ δ’ ὑπενόστησε, καὶ θάλασσα νῦν ἐστὶ πρότερον οὖσα γῆ· καὶ ἀνθρώπους διέφθειρεν ὅσοι μὴ ἐδύναντο φθῆναι πρὸς τὰ μετέωρα ἀναδραμόντες. καὶ περὶ Ἀταλάντην τὴν ἐπὶ Λοκροῖς τοῖς Ὀπουντίοις νῆσον παραπλησία γίγνεται ἐπίκλυσις, καὶ τοῦ τε φρουρίου τῶν Ἀθηναίων παρεῖλε καὶ δύο νεῶν ἀνειλκυσμένων τὴν ἑτέραν κατέαξεν. ἐγένετο δὲ καὶ ἐν Πεπαρήθῳ κύματος ἐπαναχώρησίς τις, οὐ μέντοι ἐπέκλυσέ γε· καὶ σεισμὸς τοῦ τείχους τι κατέβαλε καὶ τὸ πρυτανεῖον καὶ ἄλλας οἰκίας ὀλίγας. αἴτιον δ’ ἔγωγε νομίζω τοῦ τοιούτου, ᾗ ἰσχυρότατος ὁ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο, κατὰ τοῦτο ἀποστέλλειν τε τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ ἐξαπίνης πάλιν ἐπισπωμένην βιαιότερον τὴν ἐπίκλυσιν ποιεῖν· ἄνευ δὲ σεισμοῦ οὐκ ἄν μοι δοκεῖ τὸ τοιοῦτο ξυμβῆναι γενέσθαι.
(Thucydides, Hist. 3.89)

In the following summer the Peloponnesians and their allies, under the command of Agis, the son of Archidamus and king of Sparta, went as far as the Isthmus with the intention of invading Attica, but the occurrence of several earthquakes turned them back and no invasion took place. At around this time when the earthquakes were prevalent, the sea at Orobiae in Euboea retreated from what was then the coastline and returned in a tidal wave which hit one part of the town, and as a result of flooding combined with subsidence what was once land is now sea: the tidal wave killed the people who could not escape to higher ground in time. There was a similar inundation at Atalante, the island off Opuntian Locris, which carried away part of the Athenian fort and smashed one of the two ships laid up there. At Peparethus there was also a withdrawal of the sea, but not in this case followed by a surge: and an earthquake demolished part of the wall, the town hall, and a few other buildings. I believe the cause of this phenomenon to be that the sea retires at the point where the seismic shock is strongest, and is then suddenly flung back with all the greater violence, creating the inundation. I do not think that tidal waves could occur without an earthquake. (tr. Martin Hammond)


Colourful easter eggs on grass

Πολλῶν πανηγύρεων Διὸς βαλάνων ἔφαγεν [Michael Apostolius, Paroimiai 14.66], id est Multorum festorum Iovis glandes comedit. de sene longoque plurimarum rerum usu docto; perinde valet quasi dicas; ‘multas vixit Olympiadas’. quercus autem Iovi sacra; unde nuces iuglandes. simili ioco et hodie dicunt nostrates: Comedit multa ova paschalia, senem indicantes.
(Erasmus, Adagia 3149)

He has eaten acorns at many feasts of Jupiter. Said of a man who is old and wise through long and varied experience; it means exactly the same as ‘He has lived many Olympiads.’ The oak is sacred to Jupiter, whence the expression ‘Jove’s oak nuts.’ People in my country still say nowadays, ‘He has eaten many Easter eggs’ as a humorous way of referring to an old man. (tr. Denis L. Drysdall)